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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Officials consider party law in court

A hearing was held at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Toledo yesterday morning regarding the constitutionality of Bowling Green’s nuisance party law.

The law is meant to hold hosts of parties accountable for any criminal activity that occurs under their control, according to Matt Reger, city prosecutor.

It specifies 13 conditions or events that define a party as a public nuisance including disorderly conduct, public indecency, unlawfully loud noise, illegal use of a controlled substance and several others.

Reger believes the law is constitutional and is an essential tool for police to “quell large parties.”

But Rodney Fleming, managing attorney at Student Legal Services, disagrees and said the law violates individual’s right to assemble, which is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

“The ordinance is so broad,” Fleming said. “I think it’s vague in that it fails to specifically defines what it’s prohibiting.”

After a University student was charged with violating the nuisance party law last November, Bowling Green’s municipal court ruled that the statue was constitutional and convicted the individual.

The decision was then appealed to the Wood County Court of Appeals. During yesterday’s hearing, Reger and Fleming each presented 15 minute oral arguments.

Judges Peter Handwork, Mark Pietrykowski and Dennis Parish, who heard both side’s arguments, will decide the constitutionality of the law.

The ordinance was originally enacted Aug. 1, 2004.

Since the law has been in effect, less than 100 people have been cited with violating the nuisance law, Reger said.

The judges did not set a time frame in which a decision would be made.

“They tell you they’ll give you a decision when they get the decision written,” Reger said.

Fleming anticipates a decision would be reached in January.

If the three judges declare the law is unconstitutional, it would no longer exist as a law, Fleming said.

But they could decide the nuisance party law is constitutional and it would continue to stay in effect.

“It’s just hard to tell,” Fleming said about what the judges would decide.


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